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Lin v. Napolitano

United States District Court, Third Circuit

May 31, 2013

JIN MEI LIN, Petitioner,
v.
JANET NAPOLITANO, et al. Respondents. XIAO LIN, Petitioner,
v.
JANET NAPOLITANO et al., Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Mitchell S. Goldberg, J.

Petitioners Jin Mei Lin and Xiao Lin are natives and citizens of China who entered the United States as lawful permanent residents pursuant to their stepparent/stepchild relationship with Tina Chu. After their naturalization applications were denied by the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), Petitioners filed Petitions for Review of Naturalization Denial in this Court.

Presently before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment, requesting that the Court determine whether Petitioners are entitled to naturalization as a matter of law. For the reasons set forth below, the Government’s motion for summary judgment will be granted and Petitioners’ motion will be denied.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed:[1]

Jin Mei Lin and Xiao Lin are the children of Hai Rui Lin. As the legitimacy of Hai Rui Lin’s marriage to Tina Chu is the central issue in this case, we begin with facts relevant to that relationship.

In 1990, Hai Rui Lin entered the United States using a fraudulent passport. While in the country, Lin resided in Philadelphia, New York City and Florida, but never in or near California where Chu had resided. On December 27, 1996, Hai Rui Lin was deported back to China, and has not legally returned to the United States. (Gov’t’s Statement of Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 3-6, Doc. No. 20.)

On February 2, 1999, Hai Rui Lin and Tina Chu married in China. This marriage took place when Chu visited China from January 17, 1999 until February 3, 1999. Chu returned to the United States the day after the marriage despite possessing a visa that would have allowed her to remain in China for an additional two weeks. Chu is a naturalized United States citizen who has lived in California since at least 1989. (Id. at ¶¶ 7, 9-11.)

On March 17, 1999, Chu filed I-130 Petitions for Alien Relative[2] on behalf of Hai Rui Lin, Jin Mei Lin and Xiao Lin. In the I-130 petitions for Petitioners, Chu listed Jin Mei Lin and Xiao Lin as her stepchildren. In May 2001, Petitioners applied to the American Consulate in China for immigrant visas and alien registrations. Their applications were approved by consular process, and on May 28, 2001, they entered the United States as lawful permanent residents (“LPRs”). (Id. at ¶¶ 15-17.)

In their immigrant visa and alien registration applications, Petitioners listed their final destination in the United States as Monterrey Park, California, to reside with their stepmother Tina Chu. Upon arrival, however, Petitioners lived with Chu in California for less than two weeks. In June 2001, Petitioners left California and relocated to Philadelphia to live with their paternal uncle. On November 11, 2002, Hai Rui Lin and Chu were divorced. (Id. at ¶¶ 18-21.)

On March 29, 2006, Petitioners filed N-400 Applications for Naturalization. On August 30, 2010, USCIS denied Petitioners’ applications, finding that Petitioners wrongfully obtained their LPR status as a result of the sham marriage between their father and Chu. On September 24, 2010, Petitioners appealed that finding by filing N-336 Requests for Hearing. In support of their appeals, Petitioners submitted documentation supplied by their father, purporting to prove that his marriage to Chu was legitimate. This evidence included: phone bills from periods in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2010, including Petitioners’ cell phone bills and telephone bills from “TJ Driving School” in California; Chu’s expired passport; plane tickets for Chu; and envelopes (without the contents) sent by Chu to Hai Rui Lin in China during April and May 1999. On June 10, 2011, USCIS denied Petitioners’ appeals. USCIS concluded that the evidence submitted did not prove that the marriage between Chu and Hai Rui Lin was bona fide. (Id. at ¶¶ 22, 24-28.)

On October 8, 2011, Petitioners filed separate actions in this Court for de novo review of USCIS’ denial of their naturalization applications. On November 29, 2011, we granted an unopposed motion to consolidate the actions. On July 13, 2012 and August 13, 2012, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. These motions are now ripe for disposition.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The denial of a naturalization application is reviewed de novo by the district court pursuant to 8 U.S.C. ยง 1421(c). Where there is no genuine issue of material fact, the court may dispose of the case by way of summary ...


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